On November 25, 2014, seven finalists will take to the mainstage of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts for the Ensemble Studio Competition, the feature event of Centre Stage gala. The event will be hosted by world-renowned Canadian tenor Ben Heppner, and the singers will be accompanied by the internationally acclaimed COC Orchestra conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus. To watch the competition and see Canada's rising opera stars, visit our Centre Stage website and buy your tickets today! Over the next two weeks, follow along on Parlando as we introduce you to each of our finalists.
Raised in Stratford, Ont., performing is in Eliza Johnson’s blood. The daughter of brass musicians who played in all of the Stratford Festival musicals, she was “quite literally raised at the theatre” and she credits being surrounded by such world-class performances as some of her most formative dramatic training.
From a young age, Eliza was also heavily involved in the arts, taking piano lessons and dancing competitively. She also performed in community theatre productions and sang in the chorus of various musicals at the Huron Country Playhouse.
Eliza also expresses her artistic side through visual art. In elementary school, she designed costumes for Shakespeare productions in the hobby fair and even considered a career as an artist in high school, before deciding to focus on opera.
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Mezzo-soprano Michelle Siemens caught the performing bug early. When she was just four years old, she took part in a youth musical theatre program and “no one has been able to drag me off [the stage] since!”
Born in Calgary, her family moved around quite a bit; first to Oakville, Ont., then Saskatoon, Sask., before settling in Victoria, B.C., where Michelle spent her teen years. It was in Victoria that Michelle met her first operatic mentor, baritone and teacher Bernard Turgeon. That’s when she realized that opera was definitely in her future.
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by Wayne Gooding
This season, the staging of opera takes the focus in our series of Opera Talks under the banner: First Nights, Faux Traditions and Fresh Starts - An introduction to director’s theatre in opera through three dysfunctional families. Opera Canada editor Wayne Gooding examines three of our season’s productions, paying special attention to the specific visions of the directors who will bring them to our stage. Here’s what Wayne has to say about Dmitri Tcherniakov’s Don Giovanni which will premiere at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on January 24, 2015:
This production is perfect to launch a discussion of Director’s Theatre since Tcherniakov’s imprint is all over it. The music is Mozart’s, the words are Da Ponte’s, but everything else is the brainchild of this production’s creative team. Quite apart from the now-familiar trope of updating the action to modern times...
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Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001